Dante is on his way out of Bavaria after Bayern Munich agreed to a deal over the weekend to sell the Brazilian defender to Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg.
The transfer left Bayern more depleted than ever in defense, and yet it was probably the right move at the right time for the club.
The agreement was subject to a medical, with Dante set to sign a three-year contract on Monday. By signing on the dotted line, the Brazilian will have ended a three-year spell with Bayern that yielded three Bundesliga titles, two German Cups and a UEFA Champions League crown in 2012-13. The Bavarians won the treble that season, and Dante was a regular in Jupp Heynckes’ squad.
Life under Pep Guardiola hasn’t been as rewarding for the center-back. After struggling at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Dante started to see fewer minutes on the pitch for Bayern.
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press
The Brazilian’s status hit a low point at the start of the current season when, with Bayern facing a selection crisis in defense, Dante was left out of the squad to face Hoffenheim. He then started on the substitutes’ bench the following week against Bayer Leverkusen, when Guardiola chose a first XI without a recognized center-back.
Those decisions illustrated the extent to which Dante has fallen in Guardiola’s estimation. Thus it was no surprise that Bayern allowed the Brazilian to move on, though his destination will have raised a few eyebrows. Wolfsburg finished second in the Bundesliga last season and, despite the sale of Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City, will likely represent one of Bayern’s primary rivals again this term.
But with Dante on the wrong side of 30 and clearly out of favor, a transfer made sense. The clubs have not disclosed the fee, so we can’t know for sure what Bayern received for the player. But it’s unlikely the Bavarians would have received a higher amount at any point in the future, based on the trajectory of his career at the club.
“Dante simply wanted the chance to play regularly,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club’s official website. “We did not want to deny him this opportunity.”
Or, as Michael Munger noted at FC Bayern Central:
At 31 years old, the defender leaves Munich in worse state than when he joined in 2012. Instrumental to FCB’s treble run, Dante no longer is the dominant (defender) every Bayern fan revered. He struggled to cope with the high line of defence under Pep Guardiola.
Dante is, however, more likely to thrive at Wolfsburg. Dieter Hecking plays with a classic back four, in a tactical scheme that fits the Brazilian much better.
In our view, the decision to part ways is possibly the right one. It does, however, shed additional light on the fact that Bayern needs another central defender. Short term fixes are OK, but having one more centre-back should shield the team against problems down the road.
That last part is crucial. Allowing Dante to leave made some sense, but Bayern and Guardiola would be wise to sign another center-back if only to provide depth. Guardiola is famously creative in his use of players, frequently moving midfielders to the defense and vice versa.
But although the manager’s tinkering has worked so far, a specialist center-back would be useful as the season progresses.
As noted by ESPN FC, Dante was the only senior center-back available for selection ahead of the game against Leverkusen. Jerome Boateng was suspended, while Medhi Benatia, Holger Badstuber and Javi Martinez—who is a midfielder by trade—missed out with injuries.
When all four are fit, Bayern have options at center-back, but signing one more specialist would give the club the depth needed to avoid such a crisis in the future.